I was deployed-embedded as a civilian artist with the United States Air Force Art Program in 2005. I was assigned to document, through my art, an Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment (AFOSI) which was based out of Bahgram Air Field, Afghanistan. Bahgram (OAIX) is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. It is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) southeast of Charikar in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan.
My assignment was to document, through my art, what the AFOSI Det. was providing in Afghanistan. I saw things, heard things, smelled things, that I will never be able to explain, unless you were there. OEF Vets will know automatically what it was like. Keeping eyes in the back of your head always open, listening for sounds you hope to God you won't hear, always scanning the hills for a puff of smoke, or worse. Maybe because I'm an artist or a "former" soldier, I don't know, I took all of this in visually as well as tactically. What you will see on this page are the images that are indelibly etched into my psyche. Images that are linked with all 5 senses. This is my story through images.
The OSI mission is to Identify, exploit and neutralize criminal, terrorist and intelligence threats to the Air Force, Department of Defense and U.S. Government. Consequently, I was honored and privlaged to be able to “join” them in their mission, “down-range” or “out side of the wire”. We were teamed up with U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel, who worked hand in glove with the AFOSI to detect and eliminate old munitions left over from the former Soviet forces occupation of Afghanistan.
With my sketchbook, camera and 60 lbs. of “battle-rattle” (flax vest), I did my best to stay out of their way, sketching and photographing, but was made to feel I was part of this team. I will never,ever, be able to express my appreciation enough to these Warriors. My paintings were donated to the United States Air Force’s permanent art collection, where they reside now in the Pentagon.